Jet Ski Safari. Those three words can make all the difference! This is a great day out for the whole family tree, from the kids, all the way through to the grandparents. Nicole Buckler reports.
Jet Ski Safari: Keeping the Kids Entertained
When kids are in their tweens and teens, all they want to do is be with other kids. But I refuse to be rejected by my kids just yet. Dammit, I was in labour with them for a long time. They will have family fun with me, whether they like it or not. I just need to find family activities that won’t kill or maim their image or their soul.
My kids are now 10 and 12, and parks and other indoor play areas are just not cutting it. They don’t even want to go to the beach with the family unless friends come, too. Well, excuse me for being daggy company. So when I started looking around for family adventures, Jet Ski Safaris caught my eye. This is a company that takes people on tours of the Spit/ Broadwater/ South Straddie area – on jet skis.
And here’s the good part. Kids aged 12 and over can drive the jet ski themselves, as long as a parent is on the back. So for our family of four, we only had to hire two jet skis, with the option that the 12-year-old could have a go at driving it on the way back. There’s other good news: we didn’t need a licence. We just had a little lesson beforehand at the Jet Ski Safaris’ school of life. We also had to take a test afterwards to make sure all the info had sunk in. My kids smashed the mini exam, and then subsequently cheated for me on the understanding that I forgot my glasses… (I didn’t)…and off we went.
This jet ski safari activity is rated as Gold Coast’s number-one adventure attraction on TripAdvisor. The Foo Fighters are fans of the activity. They return again and again to do the tour. And if it is good enough for the Foo Fighters, then my family can learn to fly, too.
If you aren’t familiar with jet skis or are considering buying one for your family, this is a great experiment. While they look like they are quite unstable, they are actually super-hard to tip over. Also, you don’t need to be fit or even mildly coordinated to use them. Take me as an example. In my mind, I am training for the Gold Coast Marathon in July. But in the real world, I am highly unco and often distracted by shiny things. And the entire trip was easy stuff for me.
There would be very few people who couldn’t do this activity. There were older people on the trip, plus younger people, and even people who couldn’t swim! There were four grey nomads (senior travellers) on the trip, and they crushed it. It really is a great day out for any age.
Everyone wears a life jacket, and the group leaders keep an eye out for anyone who falls off and needs a pick-up. The life jackets are attached to the ignition. So if you fall off, your jet ski goes dead. That way, no one has to swim far to retrieve their jet ski. The jet ski safari is all good, even for people who can’t swim, as long as they have a basic level of English.
As we were led out in a line, following our leader, from the take-off point near Seaworld, I was nervous. There were a lot of other pleasure craft on the water, and I was worried I would make a bad move and cause some fancy cruiser to go full Titanic. But actually, like a roundabout full of motorbikes going different directions in Ho Chi Minh City, it all seems to work out. Humans, we got this. Like a flock of starlings, baby.
I had my youngest on the back of the jet ski with me on the way out. My kids grew up in Ireland, they are fresh off the boat to Australian life. While they can speak Irish and are completely oblivious to never-ending rain, they can be a little soft in comparison to hardy, outdoor Aussie kids. So the ten-year-old was a little nervous. Okay the truth will set you free…She didn’t trust my driving. Rude.
At the start, we were required to go slow and get used to the jet ski. Also for the instructors to ensure that we were not going to fly through the air and take out a helicopter full of tourists.
But after they are satisfied you can handle the ski, all bets are off. They take off and you are expected to follow. At the start, I drove like a granny three days from the grave. But after a few minutes, I was driving like Evel Knievel. My little one started out with her eyes closed, fearing the worst. But after about ten minutes at full speed, she accepted the wind in her hair and actually spent the journey singing in joy.
The trip we took was the 1.5-hour jet ski safari along the beautiful sub-tropical shores of South Stradbroke Island. It is such a stunning trip. Why do we leave this stuff to the tourists? We all need to do this trip. It’s hell fun in a stunning tropical wonderland. And I liked riding along inhaling the same air that the Foo Fighters breathed.
We headed north for 20 kilometres, weaving our way up past beautiful Islands, beaches, sandbars and through mangroves. Then we arrived at a tropical bar called Tipplers on South Stradbroke Island.
Here you can have a breakfast buffet, or just some drinks and snacks, and a rest on the beach, watching other people enjoy their pleasure crafts. We have never owned a boat or a jet ski, having lived in Ireland for two decades. But now I have the full picture about why people love these vessels so much. It was just. So. Much. Fun.
After a break at Tipplers where wallabies hang around like they own the place, we all got back on our jet skis. We were all looking forward to the best bit – the ride home. The reason why it is SO DAMN GOOD riding home is that by this stage, you are familiar with the jet ski and how it works, and all your nervousness is gone.
With my older kid on the back this time (my husband and I swapped kids), I became a wave terrorist, full of confidence and daring. My daughter kept telling me off as I did cool stuff. Ugh, kids these days, such squares.
On the way out towards Tippler’s, I avoided waves. On the way back, I actively sought them out to jump them and generally act like a really cool idiot. IT WAS SO FUN!
My husband was the same: on the way out, he was more cautious. On the way back, he was deliberately dropping back from the crowd so he could speed up and do stunts. Afterwards, I asked my kids who was the better driver and the most fun. They said their dad. FINE. Next time, he can be in labour with them for several days.
And the best part of the way back was jetting back into my favourite skyline in the world: The Gold Coast. It is a stunning view to absorb. Fish jumped, birds flew overhead, helicopters zoomed by, and the buildings grew in front of you. Yes indeed, I am in the market for two jet skis, thank you very much. But the most important question: did the tween and the almost-teen like this jet ski safari adventure?
They absolutely loved it. While the 12-year-old had plans to have a go at driving, at the last minute she decided that she preferred to be chauffeured around the Gold Coast. No change there then. But next time, she has ambitions to drive the whole way. It really was a fun, bonding experience for the family, and my kids didn’t think it was a daggy family hell. Winning!
I chatted with the grey nomads afterwards, and they too loved it and found it easy to negotiate. The safari takes place ever Saturday and Sunday. But there are other tours if you want to sleep in.
They have off-peak lunch safaris where you can stay for longer on South Stradbroke Island. You can visit Tipplers Cafe, Couran Cove or McLarens Landing Beach Bar as well.
My advice? If you’re planning on signing up for this jet ski safari, get a pair of wetshoes and a rashie. Don’t forget the sunglasses, and have a whale of a time.
GOLD COAST JET SKI SAFARIS are situated at
7A 60-70 Seaworld Drive, Main Beach.
Ph: (07) 2102 7366
Mob: 0409 754 538
You could always just get the ferry too!
Editor for Silver Magazine Gold Coast